Sacred Music Sunday: (Give Me That) Old Time Religion
When I joined the church in 1994, it was in many ways a very different church than I find myself in now. We talked about how the Book of Mormon was written for our day and was a warning to us against pride. We prepared for the second coming of Jesus, under the assumption that even if He isn’t coming imminently, we’ll still all meet Him when we die, so we should be prepared. The temple was preached about as a place where we can offer the saving ordinance of baptism to all who have lived. We prepared to meet God as individuals, and it was our personal relationship with Jesus that would bring us into the presence of God. The purpose of church was to perfect the saints, preach the gospel, and redeem the dead. Sacrament meeting talks were based on the scriptures.
I haven’t heard much lately about the warnings for our day found in the Book of Mormon. The return of Jesus has fallen out of vogue, and the temple is now about reinforcing the 1950s white American middle-class nuclear family, and woe be unto anyone who doesn’t fit that mold. Individuals don’t seem to matter anymore; the church is for married people. I hear more about The Family ™ than I do about Jesus some weeks. Sacrament meeting talks are based on general conference talks. I think we’ve created an idol.
I teach primary, and I make sure to center every lesson on Jesus. It’s easy this year because we’re doing the New Testament, but even when we study other material, I still bring Him with me to church. He’s why we’re there.
We need to get back to basics. Faith, repentance, baptism, following the promptings of the Holy Spirit, loving our neighbors, feeding the hungry and clothing the naked, preparing to meet God, sharing the good news that Jesus saves us from our sins. That will go a lot further in showing the world that we’re Christians than an expensive re-branding campaign will.
I love the song Give Me That Old Time Religion because it captures so well this back to basics longing that I feel. “Give me that old time religion; it’s good enough for me.” “It teaches me to love everybody.” “It will bring me back to heaven.”